California Supreme Court Says Yes to Freedom to Marry for Same-Sex Couples

California Supreme Court Says Yes to Freedom to Marry for Same-Sex Couples

Out4Immigration Says Ruling Gives Same-Sex Binational Couples Hope for Change at Federal Level

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-May 15, 2008-The California Supreme Court ruled in a 4 to 3 decision today to grant all Californians the freedom to marry.

The ruling struck down barriers that had prohibited same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples-the right to marry the person they love.

“Out4Immigration is overwhelmed by the positive impact the California Supreme Court’s decision will have on the lives of so many same-sex couples in this state,” said Michael Lim, Vice President of Out4Immigration.

Out4Immigration is a national grassroots organization dedicated to raising awareness about the discrimination same-sex binational couples face under current US immigration law and the difficulties they encounter in keeping their families together legally in this country.

“We are hopeful that California’s decision to allow all its residents the freedom to marry will lead to change at the federal level that will allow all US citizens the fairness and opportunity to legally be with the person they love,” said Lim.

The US does not recognize same-sex unions for immigration purposes in the way it does for those in opposite-sex relationships. A gay or lesbian American in a marriage, civil union or domestic partnership with a foreign partner cannot sponsor their partner for a green card. As a result many have been forced to live in exile in countries that recognize their relationships for immigration purposes. Others have been forced to live apart.

“Out4Immigration remains hopeful that as yet another state moves forward with fairness and opportunity for all of its residents, eventually so will the nation,” said Lim.

The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would effectively recognize all state laws protecting same-sex couples regardless of the terminology used to define them – marriage, civil union or domestic partnership – for immigration purposes. It would add the words “or permanent partner” to existing immigration law wherever the word “spouse” appears.  

The bill, re-introduced in May 2007 by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), currently has 98 co-sponsors in the House and 13 in the Senate.

In California, Senator Barbara Boxer has been a staunch supporter and cosponsor of the legislation ever since it was first introduced in the US Senate in July 2003. Californian same-sex binational couples are now hoping for Senator Dianne Feinstein to follow suit, raising the question what would she choose if she were forced to choose between country and partner.

According to a Human Rights Watch report, there are at least 36,000 same-sex binational couples currently living in the US.

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For more information:

Out4Immigration: http://www.out4immigration.org

The Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 2221): http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/…

The Uniting American Families Act (S.1328): http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/…

Human Rights Watch Report: Family Unvalued: Discrimination, Denial, and the Fate of Binational Same-Sex Couples under US Law: http://www.hrw.org/reports/200…

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Out4Immigration addresses the widespread discriminatory impact of US immigration laws on the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV+ people and their families through education, outreach, advocacy and the maintenance of a resource and support network. For more information, visit www.out4immigration.org. To schedule interviews with same-sex binational couples who are available to speak with the media on this issue, including Spanish-speaking couples, please contact Amos Lim, amos@out4immigration.org, 415-375-3765 or Kathy Drasky at kathy@out4immigration.org, 415-606-2085.